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When Ole Miss Head Football Coach Hugh Freeze and his wife, Jill, started the Freeze Foundation in 2014, they were inspired by faith and a genuine desire to give back. Now, they are taking what has been a self-funded mission to the next level by hiring Alice Blackmon as the Foundation’s first Executive Director.

“Our mission and our heartbeat are to support orphans and needy children both foreign and domestically,” Blackmon said. “Whether it is a sick child in America or an orphan in Africa, the Freeze Foundation wants to make an impact.”

Blackmon, a third generation Ole Miss graduate, who got her degree in Hospitality Management in 2012, feels like God was at work in the three-year process that led to her new role. A chance meeting with Coach Freeze as an event planner in Memphis eventually developed into an opportunity to return to Oxford to lead the Foundation. Her new role just so happened to begin during a busy time for Coach Freeze — the first week of fall camp back in August.

“I felt that God was calling me to go a little bit deeper in my faith, and step out of my comfort zone,” Blackmon said. “It was a unique time, and knowing that the growing work of this Foundation is his passion off the field, he needed to know someone was going to wake up every day thinking about it and being passionate about it.”

Coach Freeze, along with members of the Ole Miss Football team, has adopted a community in Haiti — Camp Marie — where they have traveled for two straight years over spring break in a joint effort with the organization 410 Bridge to bring clean water to the community. That water system, which was not compromised by Hurricane Matthew, now serves 35,000 people.

An emotional Freeze said in a documentary titled “Living Water” about one of the foundation’s mission trips, “God is good, and to see fresh water flowing into this village is an amazing thing, and the small part we played in it at the Freeze Foundation is huge…you see the joy in their faces when they have a water system, things we take for granted, the simple stuff is unbelievable.”

After doing research, talking to others and studying models of similar nonprofits, such as that of the Tim Tebow Foundation, Blackmon and Freeze are working to take the Foundation’s work to the next level and to further its mission of helping children and people in need both locally and internationally.

“On Day 1, Coach gave me a blank canvas and said here are your painting tools –here’s the paint, the brushes, go run with it,” Blackmon said. “Slowly but surely were figuring it out, and we are excited about what the future holds.”

With the work done in Camp Marie, the Foundation has already been able to make a difference on an international scale, and with an expanded base the Foundation plans to  focus right here in Mississippi, specifically in the Mississippi Delta. By partnering with local churches and businesses, the Foundation is looking forward to ultimately bringing like-minded people and organizations together to do good in the world.

“The more that we get out and talk to people, the more we realize this is the passion of an entire community,” Blackmon said. “What we can accomplish through the Foundation on our own is great, but when you involve the community, the sky is the limit.”

To learn more about The Freeze Foundation visit http://ift.tt/2bAlzU8.

Steven Gagliano is a writer for HottyToddy.com. He can be reached at steven.gagliano@hottytoddy.com

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Randall Haley is the managing editor of HottyToddy.com. She can be reached at randall.haley@hottytoddy.com.

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Sara Caroline Bridgers is not an ordinary high school student. When Bridgers was only 16 at Oxford High School, she started her own jewelry line. A year later, her jewelry line is carried in 10 different locations.

Bridgers doesn’t consider herself a jewelry person. Ironically, she started her line by accident.

“I got a necklace from the Square for my upcoming junior year picture day, and it ended up breaking the morning of… so I had to get creative,” Bridgers said. “I had suede cord in my arts and crafts box and just had to string something up and ended up loving it. I wore it to school and all of my friends were obsessed.”

Bridgers’ inspiration for her line came from a fashion trend from the early 2000’s that was making its way back into the fashion world.

She said, “Around the time I started Jewels by SarCar the black chokers were coming back into style, and I really loved the look of that combined with a longer hanging piece with the statement stone.”

Bridgers hopes to keep seeing Jewels by SarCar grow online, but also in store fronts.

She said, “I can’t wait to see what is in store for Jewels by SarCar!”

See some of Sara Caroline’s favorite pieces of her collection below: 

Her favorite piece to wear to Ole Miss games is the royal blue wrap necklace, she loves the pop of color it adds to the neutral clothes she most commonly wears:

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

Bridgeres’ favorite original piece is the white on white wrap necklace because it goes with everything and is so easy to throw on no matter the occasion:

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However, from her fall line, her favorite piece is the thick black snakeskin choker. Bridgers said, “It’s a twist of the black choker everyone loves with the gray from the snakeskin mixed in.” It also can go with just about any outfit:


Check out her collection: http://ift.tt/1KEL2b4

Alex Kitchens is the social media editor for HottyToddy.com. She can be reached at alex.kitchens@hottytoddy.com.

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Confederate Statue on the Ole Miss Campus, as the revised plaque is being installed.

Earlier this week, a revised plaque was placed in front the Confederate Statue on the Ole Miss campus. This action caused the Mississippi Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV) to revive a lawsuit from 2014 that asks for an injunction to be placed on the action taken by the university to put the plaque in front of the statue. The SCV’s petition states that they do not believe the plaque accurately represents the history behind the statue and its significance. The suit, originally filed in 2014, was dismissed at the time. However, a petition for reinstatement was granted on August 1, 2014.

“The SCV requests that this Honorable Court use its broad powers of equity to … grant an injunction against the University of Mississippi, enjoining and preventing the University of Mississippi from disturbing or otherwise altering, desecrating, attacking, removing or placing any kind or plaque or placard which may in any way change, alter or disturb the significance and meaning of the Confederate Monument,” the petition states.

According to mississippitoday.org, the lawsuit points to Miss. Code Ann. § 55-15-81, a state law that declares no “monuments, memorials or nameplates (plaques)” honoring numerous wars, including the “War Between the States,”  not be “relocated, removed, disturbed, altered, renamed or rededicated.”

University officials attempted to get the lawsuit dismissed once again, but Judge Robert Whitwell denied the request in May of 2016. The case was instead moved to circuit court.

HottyToddy.com reached out to the Sons of Confederate Veterans, and The University of Mississippi’s Chief Legal Officer, Lee Tyner for a comment and is waiting on a response. We will continue to update this story as more information becomes available.

For previous content posted about the plaque revisions, click here.

Steven Gagliano is a writer for HottyToddy.com. He can be reached at steven.gagliano@hottytoddy.com.

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Robert Langley (Submitted Photo)
Robert Langley (Submitted Photo)

The University of Mississippi Police Department will hold a memorial service at noon Friday (Oct. 21) in Paris-Yates Chapel on the 10th anniversary of the death of Officer Robert Langley, who was killed in the line of duty in 2006.

Langley was killed while assisting with a traffic stop on Jackson Avenue near the edge of campus. He left behind a wife, two sons and two stepdaughters.

The driver of the vehicle that killed Langley, who was an Ole Miss student, pleaded guilty to manslaughter and was sentenced to 20 years. The tragedy shocked and saddened the UM community and prompted changes aimed to create a safer campus environment.

“We really want to remember Officer Langley, but we also want to share with officers how it feels to lose a coworker in the line of duty and how important it is to stick together and support each other,” said Ray Hawkins, associate director of UPD. “We want them to understand they may be called to give the ultimate sacrifice and if they do, that sacrifice will not be forgotten.”

Hawkins was Langley’s supervisor and planned the service of remembrance. Tim Rutledge, director of the Mississippi Law Enforcement Alliance for Peer Support, will be the keynote speaker, and several former UPD officers will reflect of the life of their friend. The public is invited.

Langley, 30, served in the Mississippi Army National Guard and had returned from a deployment to Afghanistan six months before he died. He also had become certified to work with the university’s K-9 officer, Truus, and served on both UPD’s motorcycle and bike patrols, among other duties.

UPD Chief Tim Potts, who came to Ole Miss just last year, said Langley left a legacy of service that is an example for many.

“Though I have only been at UPD for just over a year, Officer Langley’s death left a void in our community,” Potts said. “As he lived his life with a servant’s heart, his legacy lives on and continues to inspire all who knew him.”

Hawkins said he will always remember Langley as a hardworking man who treated coworkers like family.

“He was a very concerned, caring person,” Hawkins said. “He came from a very meager background and he really worked hard to create a life for he and his family. I remember him being so humble. There was nothing he was asked to do that he wasn’t willing to do.”

Hawkins traveled with the Ole Miss band as part of the security detail for a football game in Fayetteville, Arkansas, the night Langley died. That was his last road game.

“It was an unbelievable shock,” Hawkins said. “It’s hard to grasp. I’ve never gone to another away game since then because I’ve always had that fear that if I leave, something else is going to happen and I’m not going to be here to help. I stay close by just in case.

“It really affected our whole department because we were really tight-knit.”

Lafayette County Sheriff’s Deputy Lynn Webb, a former UPD officer who rode on the motorcycle unit with Langley, had worked with him on the night shift but was transferred to a different shift. She was reassigned to the same shift as Langley the week he died and got to spend the last few days working closely with her good friend.

Webb, who will speak at the memorial service, said she, Langley and the other UPD officers were a close group who often hunted, fished and rode all-terrain vehicles together when they weren’t on duty. She remembers Langley as fun-loving, but someone who worked hard to be the best at his job.

“He loved what he did,” Webb said. “He loved trying to take care of people and loved his kids. He was a good man who died doing what he loved to do: working in law enforcement and helping others.”

The tragedy had long-lasting effects. A stretch of Jackson Avenue where Langley died was renamed for him and a marker was placed there. All UPD vehicles still have “B-5,” which was Langley’s radio call number, on them, and his picture hangs in the entrance to UPD.

Langley’s death sparked the creation of the Alcohol Task Force, which was charged with finding ways to make the university and Oxford community safer. As a result of the recommendations issued in 2007, the university created a two-strike policy for students with drug and alcohol violations.

The task force report also led to comprehensive health assessments of UM undergraduates, the creation of the Office of Health Promotion and the mandatory online education and prevention initiative, AlcoholEdu.

UM also launched an awareness campaign to explain the university’s expectations for student behavior on game days and other major campus events, as well as consequences of violating those expectations. The university and Oxford also created the Oxford-University Transit, a public transportation system.

Leslie Banahan, assistant vice chancellor for student affairs, has worked to implement the task force’s recommendations to address concerns over students’ misuse and abuse of alcohol.

“Many excellent recommendations came from this group’s work and most have been implemented,” Banahan said. “But it’s not enough. We must do more, and that’s why another task force was appointed last year.

“We continue to learn more about alcohol and other drug misuse and abuse and how best to help students make good, safe choices. We are also doing more to support students who struggle with substance addiction and have successfully completed a recovery program.”

By Michael Newsom and Ole Miss News Desk

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topstoryhottytoddyEveryone in Oxford has been wondering what stores will be coming to town and when they will open. Today, we give you the answers to all your questions regarding the Galleria II.

Dicks Sporting goods: Open


Ross: No set open date 


 Marshalls: Will open November 10th. 


Ulta Beauty: Open


Five Below: Open 


Shoe Carnival:  Open


The map of the shopping center provided by Trezevant Realty:


Alex Kitchens is the social media editor for HottyToddy.com. She can be reached at alex.kitchens@hottytoddy.com.

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Photo by Joshua McCoy, Ole Miss Athletics
Photo by Joshua McCoy, Ole Miss Athletics

No. 22 Ole Miss was outscored 17-0 in the second half as No. 23 LSU handed the Rebels a 38-21 setback Saturday night in the Magnolia Bowl at Tiger Stadium. After going into the half tied at 21-21, the Rebels (3-4, 1-3 SEC) could not overcome a big night by LSU running back Leonard Fournette and a Tigers (5-2, 3-1 SEC) defense that stepped up in the final 30 minutes of play.

Fournette finished the game with 284 yards on the ground, and LSU defense limited the high-powered Ole Miss offense to 325 yards. Senior quarterback Chad Kelly once again led the Rebels through the air and on the ground. The Buffalo, New York, native threw for 209 yards on 19 of 32 passing, while rushing for 56 yards on 12 carries. His favorite receivers were Damore’ea Stringfellow and Van Jefferson, who caught four passes apiece. Stringfellow totaled a game-high 92 yards receiving, and Jefferson added 43 yards and a touchdown.

For the Landshark defense, junior defensive end Marquis Haynes had another huge game that included a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. The Rebels recorded a season-high 10.0 tackles for loss, led by career highs from Temario Strong (2.5) and Detric Bing-Dukes (2.0). Bing-Dukes also posted a team-best eight tackles.

After forcing a three-and-out the Rebels scored on their opening drive for the sixth time this season. Highlighted by a 50-yard pass to Stringfellow, Kelly led Ole Miss 77 yards down the field. The Ole Miss quarterback completed 3-of-4 passes on the drive, including the 15-yard touchdown toss to Van Jefferson. On third down, the redshirt freshman settled down in an opening in the middle of the field. Kelly found Jefferson, and the wideout reversed field to streak to the pylon. The 2:12 drive put the Rebels on the board first.

The Landshark defense came up big once again, limiting the Tigers to three plays before another punt. Ole Miss quickly entered LSU territory and field goal range as Gary Wunderlich booted a season-long 46-yard field goal. With 4:48 remaining in the opening quarter, the Rebels held a double-digit lead, 10-0.

LSU produced its third straight three-play drive but this time found the end zone. A 21-yard pass on 2nd-and-15 gave the Tigers some momentum. On the next play, Leonard Fournette rumbled 59 yards for a touchdown to cut the Rebels’ advantage to three.

Using seven plays, the Tigers went 97 yards to take their first lead of the game at the 11:13 mark of the second quarter. Fournette started the drive with a 24-yard run to give LSU some room to work with, and quarterback Danny Etling capped it off with a 40-yard pass to DJ Chark to make it a 14-10 game in favor of the home team.

On the ensuing Ole Miss drive, the Rebels cut into the deficit with a 22-yard field goal by Wunderlich. Splitting the uprights for the second time in the contest, the junior kicker brought the Rebels to within a point. LSU countered with a 76-yard touchdown run by Fournette to bring the margin to eight, 21-13, with 6:11 left in the first half.

After LSU forced the Rebels to punt late in the second quarter, it looked as if the Tigers would take a lead into the locker room. However, Haynes had something to say about that. As Etling dropped back to pass on first down, the speed rusher blew past the right tackle and drilled the LSU quarterback from his blind side. The huge hit caused the ball to pop loose and freshman Jaylon Jones jumped on it to give Ole Miss the ball inside the LSU 10. On third-and-goal, Akeem Judd plunged into the end zone for a Rebel touchdown. After an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on the Tigers, Ole Miss elected to go for two to try and tie the ballgame. Kelly’s decision to keep the ball on a read option proved to be a smart one as he crossed the goal line to knot the contest at 21-21. After 30 minutes of football, the game stood where it started, all tied up.

The Tigers controlled the second half. On LSU’s first offensive play of the half, Fournette took off 78 yards down the field for a touchdown to break the tie. A 44-yard field goal gave the home team its biggest lead of the night, 31-21, with one quarter to play. LSU added a final touchdown in the fourth, a 6-yard run by Derrius Guice.

Following the pair of road contests, the Rebels return to Oxford for another divisional matchup next Saturday. Ole Miss will host the Auburn Tigers at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium with kickoff set for 6:15 p.m.

Follow Ole Miss Football on Twitter (@OleMissFB), Facebook and Instagram. For more information, visit http://ift.tt/16ouVLF.


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Courtesy Ole Miss Athletics
Courtesy Ole Miss Athletics 

#23 Ole Miss (3-3,1-2 SEC) @ #25 LSU (4-2, 2-1 SEC)

“Ends are not bad things, they just mean that something else is about to begin. And there are many things that don’t really end, anyway, they just begin again in a new way. Ends are not bad and many ends aren’t really an ending; some things are never-ending.” -C. JoyBell C.

It seems that more times than not, I have found myself writing this same storyline about Coach Freeze and this ball club about what should have been and what could have been. Just when it seems the Rebels are on the cusp of having it all finally pan out the way they have hoped, it is taken from their hands in a split second.

Last weekend, the Rebels once again found that their own personal “Death Valley” seems to be wherever the Arkansas Razorbacks are on the other side. I probably don’t need to recap how things unfolded last weekend, but once again the quest for a conference title or a dream of the playoffs has yet again become a distant memory. “Maybe next year” has become an all-too-familiar phrase.

Nonetheless, the Rebels must put what has transpired thus far in their rear view mirror and adjust their goals tonight in Baton Rouge under the lights in “DEATH VALLEY.” This matchup, no matter the case, always proves to be a very interesting storyline as historic rivalry games go. However, this evening there’s definitely a new, intriguing twist to this game.

The “Mad hatter” of LSU (Les Miles) is no more, and the Tigers are now being led by former Rebels Coach Ed Orgeron (a time that most would care not to remember). If that wasn’t enough, Coach Freeze worked under Orgeron during his tenure at Ole Miss and Orgeron pretty much gave him his start in college ball. Talk about the irony.

Game Notes

KICKOFF: 8 p.m. CST/9 p.m. EST Saturday at Tiger Stadium


SERIES: LSU leads 59-41-4

LAST MEETING: Ole Miss 38, LSU 17 (Nov. 21, 2015, in Oxford)


Courtesy Ole Miss Athletics, olemisssports.com, gallery
Courtesy Ole Miss Athletics, olemisssports.com, gallery

The Gridiron Snapshot

The Rebels:

This matchup will come down to the wire. The Rebels will have to come up big on both sides of the ball, but they’ll need a big game from Kelly and his offensive arsenal in Baton Rouge tonight if they have a prayer of surviving Death Valley. That hasn’t happened since 2008 for the Rebels. Kelly is credited for throwing 1,949 yards, 14 scores and has completed roughly 62% of his throws. He ranks second on the the team with 213 rushing yards, which has led to three scores on the ground. Though the Rebels receiving corps has great depth and talent, LSU will not be going quietly in this game. Look for LSU to bring out their big guns with Cornerback Tre’Davious White and safety Jamal Adams to put the pressure on Engram, Stringfellow, Jefferson and Adeboyejo. The Rebels will have to find a way to have a steady run game that isn’t as easily exposed as it was by the Razorbacks. Coach Freeze has been doing some risky business by relying too heavily on Kelly’s arm along with his mobility to keep the ball rolling on the offense. However, to stay alive against this LSU defense Coach Freeze is will have to adjust his non- traditional ground attack to be more present along with consistent pass protection to avoid being outdone by the Tigers early on.

Defensively, the Rebels have had a few wishy-washy moments on each side of extreme to say the least. The Rebels have some of the best pass rushers in the nation with Haynes and Gates, however even with that, they will have a great deal of trouble in containing the pass. With an explosive LSU offense that will have Fournette back in action along with his sidekick of Guice, the Rebels defense has its work cut out for them tonight in Baton Rouge. The Ole Miss D’s biggest task this evening will be finding ways to make plays, but most importantly putting the Tiger offensive into as many third and long situations as they can to contain Fournette and that explosive run game Orgeron has improved since taking the reigns.

The Tigers

There were a lot of question as to which way the Bayou Bengals would go when their Mad hatter Les Miles was fired. However, in spite of the dynamic shift, it seems the Bayou Bengals have ironically found a new fire and momentum under Orgeron, who is stating his case to take the full-time reigns and also trying to get the Tigers back in the playoff picture. Once again, this will be a match up to the end, and we can expect to see another offensive showcase by these two powerhouses.

LSU will look to capitalize on the Rebels’ weak rush defense exposed quickly by the Razorbacks last week, giving up 200 yards in Fayetteville. The Tigers are looking to focus their game plan around their explosive rushing attack and stronger offensive line. The Tigers being back healthy on the offensive side of the ball will look to play no holds barred on the offense tonight with the return of Fournette, who will have his partner in crime Derrius Guice to make plays in the backfield. Don’t be surprised to see Orgeron spice up things tonight with this LSU attack, but know that he will stay true doing what works, and that’s sticking it to the Rebels with their ground attack.

Courtesy Ole Miss Athletics, olemisssports.com, gallery
Courtesy Ole Miss Athletics, olemisssports.com, gallery

Kick Off Keys to the Game

  1. Slow down LSU rushing attack:

The Rebels are will have to find a way to contain the Tigers’ explosive rush attack and healthier offense. They will have Fournette and Guice to answer to in more ways than one.  The Tigers’ run game is no joke and they need to put the Tigers in as many third and long situations as they can to stay afloat in this game.

  1. Containing the Pass:

The Tigers explosive offensive unit in the backfield will be ready for the Rebels tonight, but even before the ball comes their way, the Rebels are will need to find a better way to contain LSU QB Danny Etling. Though he has not put up explosive numbers against his previous opponents, he does connect with his receiving corps more times than not to make big plays for the Tigers. Etling does a pretty good job of protecting the ball, only allowing two interceptions on 119 attempts. The Rebels have struggled to contain the pass and with pass-rush despite having two of the conference’s leading pass rushers in the line-up.

  1. Kelly Needs A Big Game:

Plain and simple the Rebels will need to show up like they did against Georgia. Kelly and his arsenal will have to play with everything they have and not let their guard down or get comfortable. They don’t have a typical ground attack, but they will have to find a way to balance Kelly’s strong arm and mobility and take it to the Tigers on the ground some way. The line will need to pass-protect Kelly like their life depends on it, and the backfield unit will have to connect and get in the groove in the air and on the ground to make it out of Death Valley.

In short, this game will see an appearance by both defenses having their work cut out for them to stop each team’s explosive offensives. However, once again, this game will rely heavily on which team’s offense can command completely for 60 minutes. This late-night matchup of the Magnolia Bowl in Death Valley will be a heater and will be neck and neck till the last down is played tonight. Are you Ready? Lights out Rebels, and remember every exit line is an entry!

Lee Ann Herring-jpgs-0601

Lee Ann Herring-Olvedo is a HottyToddy.com contributor, veteran SEC sports journalist and Brown University graduate. She loves good cigars, good games and a smooth glass of bourbon — not necessarily in that order. She can be reached at misskentuckyus2011@gmail.com.

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The new Invest in Ole Miss campaign honors Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter, who enjoys spending time with students over breakfast. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications
The new Invest in Ole Miss campaign honors Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter, who enjoys spending time with students over breakfast. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

A new fundraising campaign – Invest in Ole Miss – is celebrating a University of Mississippi milestone while building support for academics.

Campaign administrators say Invest in Ole Miss honors the Nov. 10 investiture of Jeffery S. Vitter, the university’s 17th chancellor, by increasing resources in the Ole Miss Fund, the reserve of unrestricted financial contributions that support the university’s schools and colleges at the deans’ discretion.

The campaign welcomes Vitter in this new chapter in the life of the university, recognizing the growth and progress taking place, said Barbara Daush, regional development officer at the UM Foundation.

“The Invest in Ole Miss campaign capitalizes on Chancellor Vitter’s first year,” she said. “We wanted to use the themes of his investiture to commemorate the new, exciting opportunities that it brings.

“Annual giving is the foundation of all giving for the university, a way to engage all donors to invest in the needs of the institution. This year, we decided to utilize the crowdfunding platform Ignite Ole Miss to attract support for the Ole Miss Fund.”

Specifically, contributions will help increase educational opportunities, employ new faculty and form on-campus programs.

“Private giving, especially in the form of unrestricted support, is critical to the day-to-day operation and progress of our university,” said Noel Wilkin, senior associate provost. “This new era in the history of Ole Miss provides the perfect opportunity to engage our ever-generous alumni and friends.”

Addi McNutt, a junior mechanical engineering major from Decatur, Alabama, said she chose to attend Ole Miss after being offered a scholarship funded by a private gift from UM benefactors.

“It speaks volumes to have such a nationally recognized academic leader like Chancellor Vitter invested in the well-being of Ole Miss students,” McNutt said. “His time at our university will be a milestone for us in terms of continued growth and greater unity on the Oxford campus.”

Ignite’s crowdfunding platform enables donors to support the university by offering support to specific needs on campus.

“By contributing to the Invest in Ole Miss campaign through Ignite, alumni and friends can take an active role in the future of the university and celebrate our new leader and his family,” said Angie Avery, project director.

“This is an exciting time at the university, and there is unlimited potential when we come together with our gifts to bolster programs. We encourage everyone to participate and we thank those who already have.”

Thirteen giving levels were designated to reflect points of interest about the chancellor and the university, Avery said. For example, donors could contribute $17 in honor of Vitter becoming the university’s 17th chancellor, $500 to commemorate his 500+ connections on LinkedIn or $1029 to mark the day (Oct. 29, 2015) Vitter was named chancellor.

For more information on Invest in Ole Miss, visit Ignite Ole Miss or contact Avery ataavery@olemiss.edu.

The public investiture formally marking Chancellor Vitter’s leadership of the university is set for 3 p.m. Nov. 10 in the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts. To find out more, visit http://ift.tt/2eqS7mlu.

By Hannah Pickett and the Ole Miss News Desk

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Photo courtesy of Josh McCoy/ Ole Miss
Photo courtesy of Josh McCoy/ Ole Miss
Ole Miss sophomore Javon Patterson’s involvement with football is not difficult to see during Saturdays in the fall. He contributed immediately for Ole Miss as a freshman, starting half of the games he played. This year, he’s taken over full starting duties at left guard.

However, that’s not the only involvement Patterson has with the game of football. He currently serves on the NCAA Ad Hoc Recruiting Working Group, a national committee that conducts a comprehensive review of Division I football recruiting legislation. They will deliver a report to the NCAA Division I Football Oversight Committee later this month to give recommendations on how to make recruiting better for everyone involved, including coaches and players.

“Over the summer, we talked with a bunch of coaches, athletics directors and NCAA workers. We talked about different recruiting calendars for the coaches,” Patterson said.

The discussions are conducted over the phone once a week. And don’t worry; the calls didn’t cut into his preparation for football.

“It’s not really time consuming. It’s a Thursday thing,” Patterson said. “It’s a call during the day.”

That did not mean the calls weren’t about substantial topics. Not many stones went unturned in the recruiting process for the working group. Improvements can’t be made if everything is not discussed.

“We talk about the whole recruiting calendar, visit periods, non-contact periods and when players can have official visits,” Patterson said. “We talked about things like doing official visits earlier during a player’s junior year of high school.”

If at least 75 percent of the group agrees to a proposition, the potential rule change is listed on the report for a meeting. Some of those discussed rule changes include an early signing period for football, spring evaluation periods, junior year official visits and not shortening the fall contact period.

Some parts of recruiting can be inconvenient for those involved. The NCAA working group tries to iron some of those out to find the most efficient way to do things for high school players, college players and the coaching staffs.

“We work on how it would be for coaches to be with their team during the season,” Patterson said. “Some coaches go out and watch on Friday nights to recruit. Most of the time, that can be a celebrity show. They’re going to take pictures, but really they’re just trying to watch kids.”

The current players are able to give a different perspective than coaches or athletics directors can. They recently went through the recruiting process as high schoolers, and they understand the dynamics of recruiting on a current college player. Since he’s played so much for Ole Miss in his first two seasons, it’s easy to forget that Patterson signed his National Letter of Intent fewer than 20 months ago.

“We know more from the kids’ perspective in high school, and also from the players in college too,” Patterson said. “How would you like your coaches to be around? We talk what dates the coaches can recruit and things like that for times that they can be with their family and times they can be with their team.”

While serving on the working group is a testament to Patterson’s character beyond his blocking ability, it’s also an opportunity for him to meet people he otherwise would not.

“At the end of July, I went to the NCAA offices, and we had a meeting all day that went pretty well,” Patterson said. “It was cool to meet the other players in the group there.”

The group is comprised of just a selective few. In total, there are only 16 representatives from colleges, with only four players on the roster. The only universities with a student representative are Ole Miss, Boise State, Ohio State and Oklahoma. Patterson is one of only two Southeastern Conference representatives on the working group.

“(The) FedEx (Student-Athlete Success Center) nominated me for it,” Patterson said. “They did a great job of putting my name out there. The Lord led me to become one of the recruiting advocates for the NCAA.”

Courtesy of Dylan Edwards, OleMissSports.com

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